Undernourished women who take a vitamin and mineral supplement while pregnant may be less likely than women taking only iron and folic acid supplements to have babies weighing less than 2,500 grams, and their newborns may be less likely to have morbidity in the first seven days of life, according to a report in the January issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
Low birth weight, or a weight of less than 2,500 grams, is a major predictor of death in infancy, according to background information in the article. It also increases the risk that the child will grow up to develop coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke or high blood pressure. In countries low on resources, a mother's nutrition before and during pregnancy are known to affect the birth weight of her baby. Low-income women are often deficient in a number of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), including vitamins C and E, vitamin B complex and folate.
Piyush Gupta, M.D., M.A.M.S., University College of Medical Sciences, Delhi, India, and colleagues conducted a randomized trial involving 200 women who were 24 to 32 weeks pregnant and either underweight (having a body mass index of less than 18.5) or with a low hemoglobin level (between 7 and 9 grams per deciliter), which can indicate malnourishment. The women all lived within 5 kilometers of a hospital in East Delhi, India, and planned to deliver either at the hospital or in the neighborhood. Information about the participants, including age, height and pre-pregnancy weight, was collected at the hospital between May 1, 2002, and April 30, 2003.
One hundred and one of the women were randomly assigned to take a placebo tablet containing only calcium, and the other 99 received a tablet containing a mix of 29 micronutrients and were instructed to take it daily. Both groups were given iron and folic acid supplements and guidance on prenatal health and were monitore
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